Henri Nowen author of The Wounded Healer writes "We are called to identify the suffering in our own lives." This would include identifying our suffering; mind, body and spirit. It is here that we begin serving God. This is a strange but powerful concept that we would use the suffering in our own lives to help others. It is the pain that had been identified that we use to reflect the image of Christ in the world.
Suffering is relative to each life and each life has a threshold. The song writer sings so marvelously "He knows how much we can bear!" I beg to differ at times it feels as though God has given us more than we can bear. At times this is where the anger at God comes from, that God really didn't have an idea that I could not bear the load. When we become overloaded with the suffering of life it signify and symbolizes that something is wrong. the suffering comes in waves for some. If it is not one thing its another. After the death of one relative comes another. After the loss of one job, comes the loss of another. After the loss of income comes foreclosure. After the the diagnosis of cancer comes the news it malignant and not benign. The list goes on until we become chronic sufferers and it is not when will the suffering go away but Lord help me to manage the pain. My mother-in-law suffers from rheumatoid arthritis and her major concern over the years has been how does she manage the pain.
After a while the danger is that people no longer take you serious and you are labeled as a hypochondriac. In the text of Job 1 we read he has lost everything.
We find Satan believing he has a good idea, that if he can afflict Job's life, first taking everything he has and secondly afflicting his body with sores that this man will indeed curse God. No Job speaks concerning cursing the day he was born. It is true suffering causes a reaction in mind, body and spirit. It depletes the human will to survive and life can become unbearable. Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross writes in her book On Death and Dying that we will go through the stages of Anger, Denial, Rejection, Bargaining and Acceptance. She uses the model for the dying and grief following death, but why wouldn't sufferers also go through stages. We go through the stage and not in any particular order. Suffering is the monster that wakes us up in the morning and does not let us sleep at night. In each and every life at some point suffering may come. To some it may identify and become part of your ministry to the world. Job ministers to us in verse 9 of chapter 2.
9 His wife said to him, “Are you still maintaining your integrity?
Curse God and die!”
10 He replied, “You are talking like a foolish[b] woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?”
Job's wife asks us the relevant question. "Are you going to maintain your integrity?" After all you have been through or all that you are currently going through, will you maintain your integrity?
The expectation of God for Job after his conversation with the evil one was that Job would remain faithful. This is a lot to ask of a person who is suffering that you would remain faithful to the creator. Integrity means wholeness. (Latin-integer meaning whole) So the question is really asking us will we remain whole? This wholeness is internal. Job looks bad, his body is covered with sores, his mental, spiritual and physical state has to be a mess. His posture has to be diminished along with his will to function. Remember Job tears his robe, the symbol of suffering, he shaves his head and falls to the ground and oddly worships. He is afflicted with sores and yet through rounds one and two he maintains his wholeness internally. Integrity is wholeness of spirit, it is an internal quality. If you value integrity you hold fast. If you believe in integrity you hold fast and if you stand upon its principles you hold fast. The integrity Jobs wife is talking about and Job is modeling for us holds fast in times of suffering.
If this holding fast and display of integrity were a scientific model it would demonstrate that you have a consistent framework that measures your ability to adjust to adversity and suffering. Job's wife and Satan's experiment fails when Job reminds them that there is good and bad in life. Job not only remains faithful but shows integrity is a virtue.
If you maintain your integrity your sympathizing friends will no longer recognize you. Versus 11-13 of chapter two.
11 When Job’s three friends, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite, heard about all the troubles that had come upon him, they set out from their homes and met together by agreement to go and sympathize with him and comfort him. 12 When they saw him from a distance, they could hardly recognize him; they began to weep aloud, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads. 13 Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was.
Suffering changes your continence, your speech and you have been marked for life. Some know your story but grew quiet as they watched from a distance your suffering. The see how great it is and even causes some a sense of shame. Be whole my brohters and sisters. I conclude with the words of the Prophet Isaiah chapter 53.
3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken,
smitten of God, and afflicted.
5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.